Why Art Sucks and Why I Want to Write

On Day 1 of my week-long, pre-Etsy Store Grand Opening/photo adventure/immerse-myself-in-art staycation, I visited the Denver Art Museum just before they closed for the day. With only 45 minutes to wander, I decided to stick to one temporary exhibit on Renaissance Art of Venice, Italy. Ugh. Religious art. Catholic religious art. I went there looking for inspiration and all I got were a bunch of saints, Virgin Mary’s and Jesus’s suffering on the cross. I did appreciate that they were 500 years old – that’s kind of amazing. Imagine what was happening in Denver 500 years ago – no one was adorning grandiose cathedrals with humongous canvases covered in gold. Also, I liked the colors (lots of vibrant yet natural colors and all that gold) and some of the minute details like animals in the background and the way folds of cloth were represented, but it wasn’t the art that made me enjoy the experience. I enjoyed being taken back in time, walking around, feeling like I did when I was younger, wandering around the museums of Europe. The volunteer even made me wear my backpack in my front so I didn’t knock down any art with it on my back – I had to roll my eyes because really that was pretty unlikely – but in the end it helped bring me back to my backpacking days, when I walked around a foreign city with my big backpack on my back and my day pack on my front. It’s the little things that make you nostalgic for those traveling days – like boring religious art and wearing a frontpack.

I’ve always found art kind of confusing. When I was 18, during that 2-month solo trip around Europe, I visited a ton of art museums: the Louvre in Paris, the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam, the Musée de Petit Palais – Museum of Modern Art in Geneva, the Joan Miro Museum and the Picasso Museum in Barcelona, the Museo del Prado and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid! I actually forgot I had visited so many – I had to go back and look at an old scrap book to look up that list. What I do remember is walking away from that trip thinking – I don’t really ‘get’ art. Which is ironic since I eventually went on to study art in college. Maybe I was trying to ‘get it.’ I don’t think I ever really learned to get art in college, but what I did learn is that I am fascinated with the lives of artists! When I started reading about the lives of Toulouse Lautrec, Georgia O’keefe, Robert Mapplethorpe, Jackson Pollock, Vermeer, Van Gogh, suddenly I felt I ‘got’ their art better – I gained a new appreciation for it.

On a side note, art school left me sort of pissed off with the art world. I did love art history, I mean I LOVED art history. All those boring religious paintings made a lot more sense when you got to know about the times in which they were made. But when it came to classes where I actually had to make art, I was taught that everything had to have meaning, or make a statement or be completely original – like a urinal being presented as art. I was being challenged to think like a modern artist and I did not like it. Curse you Marcel DuChamp! So after college, I stopped making art. And it took The Artist’s Way, ten years later to help me combat the voices of those inner critics and annoying professors. That book helped me understand why we make art, why we MUST make art. That making art is a spiritual venture.

SHARING MY WRITING
That whole intro was written to say, there isn’t much to ‘get’ about my art. I make world maps and I love doing it. I get a lot of inspiration from Pinterest and I copy a lot of what I see. I don’t consider what I do ‘fine art’ and my grand vision is to see my maps hanging as posters in thousands of college dorm rooms. I have a lot more to say about my process of making maps, about the things that inspire me and the reason I’m obsessed with world maps – but I’ll save that for future blogs. Suffice it to say, this year I want to push myself to SHARE my writing (remember that’s my word for 2017) so that you all can get to know me better and hopefully gain a better appreciation for my art. It’s like if Bellini, Giorgione and Titian had had blogs in 15th century Italy, I probably would have enjoyed my visit to the art museum tenfold.

Working on My Day Off

I’ve been getting a lot of crap for working all morning… from coworkers since they know this is supposed to be my time off. But I had deadlines and I felt guilty and let’s face it, work is an amazing excuse to procrastinate cleaning my house. And…

My job is like play to me.

How many people can say that?! When I’m not making art and being a mom/wife, I am the Design & Interactive Manager at Denver Zoo (I’m also the official photographer —  I get to photograph baby zoo animals!). I have been working there for 5 1/2 years and was a volunteer there for 2 years before that. I like to to tell people that I love my job as much today as I did on the day I started. Again, how many people can say that?

I could go on and on about all that I love about my job but I’m sure there will be posts on this topic in the future, like maybe when I have new baby zoo animal photos to share!

For today – I will just share with you some of the projects that I got to work on this morning as evidence of why I feel the need to do work even though it’s officially my day off (it’s just so much FUN!):

Signage and advertising for our new tiger exhibit…

the_edge

I had to put together our monthly Board Report for the month of December and these were some of the highlights from the section under Public Relations:

baby_zebraWATCH: Baby zebra at Denver Zoo loves the snow

Denver Zoo offers X-ray to help restore 367-year-old painting
We’re even making contributions to the art world – how cool is that?

Last chance to visit Santa at Denver Zoo’s Zoo Lights
Zoo Lights is where we take the girls to take Santa every year. I make it a point to get there before the crowds. This year, we were the first ones there and he spent and extra amount of time talking to the girls — telling them not to fight and telling Sophie that puppies get scared on the sleigh ride so he avoids giving puppies for Christmas.
santa

And… I worked on our new Zoo Map. You all know by now just how much I love maps.

zoo_map

It’s 1:30 now and I am officially taking the rest of the day off! To clean my house – ugh. I think I’ll get in the hot tub first. See, now I feel I deserve it. No more guilt.

My Word for 2017 is SHARE

I love this idea of choosing a word at the beginning of the year that will motivate and guide you throughout the year. My word for 2017 is SHARE.

I will share my art, my writing, and myself. It is scary but it is time. I came up with the idea of making Wander + Wonder World Maps over 12 years ago. I had recently moved to Colorado from Australia and I was in a job that I didn’t find creatively inspiring. I also was pretty sure I had met the man of my dreams and figured it was time to settle down and stop being such a vagabond. This is a journal entry from November 2004 when the idea first came to me:
journal-entry_nov2004

Twelve years is a long time. Since then, I have given a few maps away to friends, I have been commissioned to make a couple and I have decorated my home with them but mostly they just sat flat underneath the bed in our guest room, for years.

SHARING MY ART
I was thinking of opening an Etsy store but I was scared. I went to my therapist, Melanie, with my fears of being egotistical and selfish for wanting to sell my art and having this desire to put myself out there.

“Charlotte, what if instead of feeling like you are being selfish by sharing your art, you consider the fact that you are being selfish if you don’t. What if the world needs your art right now… especially now.” This was a month after the elections and it was clear that she was alluding to the sense of dread that had recently washed over half of the American population. She helped me meditate on this idea that the world needs my art now. Melanie guides me through short meditations in our sessions and that is where the magic happens. I closed my eyes and felt lightness in my body, the evidence I needed to know she was right. It is time.

Of course that two minute meditation didn’t instantly rid me of fear and trepidation. That has taken about six weeks with the additional help of a very special book.

Around the same time I met with Melanie, I started reading The Artist’s Way. Have you heard of The Artist’s Way?! If you are a creative type (or not), if you have even a sliver of spirituality floating within you (or stand strong in your beliefs), if you love the idea of serendipity (what I call magic), or if you’ve ever wanted to figure out what your true calling is… read The Artist’s Way. But be prepared, it’s not just a book, it’s a 12-week program that has the potential to change your life. I read it ten years ago and it motivated me to push myself to make more art. I’m reading it again and this time it has allowed me to let go of all fear when it comes to selling my art.

I’m ready. I’m doing this. I’ve decided to open my Etsy store on 01.17.17. I don’t know if that’s an auspicious date but it looks like one so I’m going with it and that gives me exactly a week to get it together and do what I need to do to make this happen!

In order to do that, I am gifting myself a week off work to make art, to have adventures, to meet with other artists, to write, to wander and to wonder. And guess what?! I am SHARING it all with YOU. Because, after all, my word for this year is SHARE. I will be blogging daily until my store is open and posting to Instagram and Facebook.

Here is the first photo to start the week off on a happy note…

happy-tag

Stay tuned for more on Sharing My Writing and Sharing Myself.